Thursday, April 13, 2017

Moronic, Not Byronic: Final Judgment on the 60s Revolution: It's Boring

Image result for bored catPerhaps I am simply reading a bad book? Perhaps in my attempt to give Mick Farren's science fiction dystopia its due, I have ignored the possibility that it is a horrible bit of writing? 

What is it now? A quote:

"The worst of it was that even in the skittish atmosphere of building tension and resentment, none of the junior deacons felt they could talk about it. Certain that their every word and deed was being observed and recorded, they either folded into themselves in tight-lipped silence, or, if they talked at all, they reduced conversation to its blandest fundamentals."
Mick Farren seems not to appreciate anything approaching the rational spirituality of Christianity. That much is clear if we read his Rock'n'Roll as Spontaneous Paganism. His view of religion is a prototype of juvenile delinquency. He seems to instinctively understand something about corruption, but he seems to have literally ended his education on Elvis and the preachers who denounced him.

In this sense, Farren is so contemptuously modern and Western (the two being synonymous) as to make the head spin. He is the liberal gentleman's nightmare far more than the conservative thinker's sparring partner because he embodies all of the risk that the conservative warns of and none of the Enlightenment that the liberal promises.

What struck me in the above quoted portion of Armageddon Crazy is that none of these supposedly rabid Christian fundamentalists thought to pray when finding themselves in such a stressful situation. If for no other reason they should be praying because the regime is watching them - but is Farren suggesting that in a Christian Fundamentalist theocracy prayer will not enter into the minds of its zealous defenders? So far - none of his Christian characters have done anything remotely Christian. Ayn Rand was at least wise enough to leave religion out of her books, given how little she understood it.

It is unfortunately all a question of prejudice. My prejudices regarding Christian behavior are such that Mick Farren's Christian characters come off as unrealistic.

Farren seems to suggest that only the stupidest sort of human being could really believe in God. This lends plausibility to the fact that the masses likewise believe that holographic images represent real religious revelations.

At one point Farren suggests, wisely, that this combination of stupid religious faith and materialist hedonism is the definition of modern America. Farren may be more intelligent than his book lets on. He might simply be engaging in the same kind of enterprise that New Theatre and brutalism often undertake: a stark demonstration of ugliness. I do not think this is worthwhile. Intelligent men and womem should not waste their time on it. Art and literature are not there to hold up a mirror to all that is grotesque.

Reading this book reminds me of the several years I spent working abreast New Theatre. A liberal quantity of alcohol and an extreme stretch of the imagination were required to even allow for most of what was produced to pass for culture. Tolerance in the most literal and Latin sense was compulsory if one wished to maintain the delusion that culture was the product of modern theater.

I am older now and have less patience. This book is just poorly written and symptomatic of the ignorance of Western popular culture. I am not "disgusted" - just bored. I am not "scandalized", just bored. Good dystopian literature must be rooted in a thorough understanding of a utopia and its discontents. I think I will take a cue from Mr. Farren, who claimed not to have been able to finish serious books he started, and shelve this book. I find myself fleeing to a 1964 Geometry book in order to find myself reading intelligent literature again. There I found characters who made sense: points, line segments, lines, triangles - and this book was written and published by Communists in the 1960s - so I cannot be accused of retreating away from "the revolution", only away from "the revolution, man". 

The best I can say for Armageddon Crazy is that it is a study in the depths of ignorance that result from a Western modern education combined with a cursory experience of all of the negative aspects of American fundamentalist protestantism, hedonism, materialism and alcoholism. Indeed the 1960s could only happen in America and only the Anglo-American mind could even begin to take what Mr. Farren writes as serious social commentary. The author calls himself a Byronic swashbuckler, however this is not Byronic - just Moronic.

Bored cat courtesy

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